"Mark talks about his celebrity 'image'"

by Damon Romine | Soap Opera Update Magazine, May 14, 1996
 Thanks to Salem for the contributions.

Playboy. Comic. Boy-next-door. Athlete. Humanitarian. All of the above? None of the above? Mark Valley admits that he might just be a man without an image. A work in progress, if you will. "When I moved to New York, my agent said, 'Mark, you've got to get an image or this industry will make one of you,'" he recalls.
The actor, who joined Days a year and a half ago in the popular role of Jack Deveraux, launched his career in show business while in the army in Germany. He opted out of the service in 1993 and moved to New York to pursue acting, relocating to Hollywood when he landed the Days gig.

But for Valley, the job is much more business than it is show. He avoids the glitz and the entrapments that Hollywood can bring. He plays his cards very close to the vest, not hesitating to decline answering a question another actor would quickly throw out a response to. He's not a man who seemingly has secrets to hide, yet he would like to keep his personal business to remain personal.

"Somebody told me once that interviewing me is not difficult, it's just not fun 'because you seem to think about what you're saying and you're very conscious of your image,'" he says. "But I don' t think that I'm conscious of the image that I want to project, I just don't want to tell all my business. There are some things that I would not (want to) come out in a magazine because it would be like an intrusion. It's about privacy."

He'd rather not discuss details about his current girlfriend beyond admitting that he is involved. And about his eight year old daughter, Sherri, from a previous relationship, he simply states, "I'm doing my best. That's all I can say given the circumstances. I don't really feel that it's a difficult situation -- it's just the way it is. But it's so great to have someone in your life like that."

Valley was raised in Upstate New York on the St. Lawrence River, just across the Canadian border, with three younger sisters. A major influence on his life was his grandfather William Farrand, who died in February at age 85. "He was a pretty important person in my life," Valley admits. "He is the kind of man who would challenge you. He was easy to please, but he challenged you to try harder and was really inspiring." Farrand proudly followed his grandson's work on the soap and would often ask him questions about upcoming storylines.

When the actor is questioned about whether or not he is still 'learning' on the job, the comedic side of him emerges. "No, actually I've begun to teach. I'm conducting acting seminars for the other actors on the show," he says slyly, before admitting that he still goes to class and works with an acting coach when needed. "Actually, the question should be, 'If you're not learning, then what are you doing there?' Yes, I am. Now I'm starting to focus in some of the finer points, knowing when the camera is on me, timing my reaction so that more of my stuff is caught on camera. Before, when I'd be giving some of my best stuff, you'd see the back of my head."

Besides Days, Valley is auditioning for other work when it comes up, but makes it very clear that the soap that gave him his big break is his priority. "Right now, my job is to work on the show and do it the best that I can. But whenever I have free time, I audition for other things. Auditioning is really tough," he concedes. "You get close, you wait on pins and needles, and then it's, 'I'm sorry, you didn't make it. They don't like you. They love you. They thought you were boring. They thought you were incredible. They thought you were dumb.' I'm so glad that I have a job."

Yes, a job, like his agent suggests, that may create an image for the actor should he not choose one for himself. But he hopes the people that he meets along the way will be the judge. "I would like them to think that I was someone who was honest, someone who doesn't put on a lot of airs: 'He might have been in a great mood or a s----y mood, but at least he was honest with you.' I'd rather be known as someone who expresses himself with his heart, rather than with what I wear or who I'm with. "When you look at some of the old-time actors in Hollywood, you can kind of see the image that they are going for. I think an image is a by-product of the things that you actively seek in the world and your personality, and I'm confident that as long as I'm honest in whatever situation I'm in, with whoever I'm with. I'll come out okay. Hell, I might be 40 before someone says what Mark Valley's image is. But at least it will be an honest one."